Warren MacKenzie

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A vase by Warren MacKenzie

Warren MacKenzie (born February 16, 1924) is a North American craft potter. He grew up in Wilmette, Illinois the second oldest of five children including his brothers, Fred and Gordon and sisters, Marge (Peppy) and Marilyn. His high school days were spent at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.

MacKenzie and his first wife, Alix, studied with Bernard Leach from 1949 to 1952. His simple, wheel-thrown functional pottery is heavily influenced by the oriental aesthetic of Shoji Hamada and Korean ceramics. He is credited with bringing the Japanese Mingei style of pottery to Minnesota, fondly referred to as the "Mingei-sota style."[1]

MacKenzie has described his goal as the making of "everyday" pots. Accordingly, although his pots are found in major museums and command high prices among collectors, MacKenzie has always kept his prices low and for various time periods did not sign his work (1970s, most of the 2000s) until recently resuming the use of his chop at the end of 2009. Most of his output is produced in stoneware, although he has worked in porcelain at times during his career.

MacKenzie is well known as a teacher. Since 1952 he taught at the University of Minnesota, where he is a Regents' professor emeritus. His students have included Randy Johnston, Dick Cooter, Mike Norman, Jeff Oestreich, Wayne Branum, Mark Pharis, Barbara Diduk, Paul Dresang, Shirley Johnson, Michael Brady, Sandy Simon, and E.A. (Mike) Mikkelsen.

Warren MacKenzie's second wife of 30 years, Nancy MacKenzie, died in October 2014, at the age of 80. Nancy was an accomplished textile artist using found objects from nature and the recycle bin. For many years, they were the heart and soul of the arts community of St. Croix River Valley. Warren continues to live in the home they shared outside Stillwater, Minnesota, where he continues to maintain his studio.[2] Until December 2006, MacKenzie also housed a showroom on his property. The showroom operated strictly on the "honor system" whereby pots were marked with price stickers and visitors would pay for pots by placing their money in a wicker basket, making change for themselves as appropriate. Unfortunately, due to theft and customers selling his work for an outrageous profit online, MacKenzie closed his showroom, opting instead to sell his pots through the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota,[3] Trax Gallery in California, Lacoste Gallery in Massachusetts and the Schaller Gallery in Michigan, as well as exhibitions around the country.


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